Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Prisoner (your e-mail)

Sean is a compendium of knowledge about "The Prisoner" series, and he let me know that I had it wrong when I said the series was cancelled:
For what it's worth, it wasn't "cancelled." McGoohan originally intended to do 8 episodes or so, and then was encouraged to expand that out to the eventual 17, not all of which achieve the high quality the series set for itself. They ended with an episode that was intended as McGoohan's finale all along, even though it left many viewers more perplexed than ever.

It's not unusual for the British to produce what we in the US would call "limited series," with a finite number of episodes. Only in the US, where the syndication market is so lucrative, is there the pressure to keep producing seasons until you get at least 100 episodes.

Plus, he added some bonus information:
My favorite episode is the under-appreciated "Living In Harmony," which takes place in the old west with Number 6 as a sheriff who refuses to carry a gun. Reportedly CBS, who reran the show here in the US, refused to air this episode because it played as an antiwar allegory in the middle of the Vietnam War. Certainly the setting of the episode in the American west cut a little close to home.

...As to the number of episodes, here's a quote from Wikipedia:
In a 1977 interview McGoohan said: "I thought the concept of the thing would sustain for only seven, but then Lew Grade wanted to make his sale to CBS, I believe, and he said he couldn't make a deal unless he had more, and he wanted 26, and I couldn't conceive of 26 stories, because it would be spreading it very thin, but we did manage, over a weekend, with my writers, to cook up ten more outlines, and eventually we did 17, but it should be seven…"[3]

If you're really interested in the minutia, you can see which 7 were McGoohan's originals here, along with all of the various attempts to put the episodes in an internally-coherent order:

The great thing about The Prisoner is you can always dig one more level deeper into its meaning and making, and find something fascinating.

He's exactly right when he says that what makes the show so fascinating is that there's always a deeper level if you keep looking.

I also got an e-mail from Our Man In Japan, Michael Martin, because he tried to access the AMC-hosted episodes and couldn't:
I was excited to check out the Prisoner. Premise sounded cool and your work-up made it worth checking out.

So... No Go. Ah, yes, I'm in Japan. Apparently anyone outside the US is an evil-doer and does not deserve to have their eyes sullied by the likes of American TV. Hulu does the same thing. I've tried proxy servers. No go.

If you've got a solution for that, please let me know.

Site Meter